MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff won’t seek permanent presidency ⋆
Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff announced Sunday that she will not apply to be the institution’s permanent president.
“As the third interim president of MSU in the last five years, I wish for a period of stability for the university. Thus, and to enable that goal, I do not seek the full-time presidency but will support the individual selected for this role as they assume the helm,” Woodruff said in a statement posted to the university’s website on Sunday evening.
Woodruff has served as interim president since October 2022, when the university’s Board of Trustees unanimously appointed her to the position after former President Samuel Stanley announced his resignation. Stanley’s departure followed votes of no confidence in the university’s Board of Trustees from MSU’s Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Michigan State University.
Previously the university’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Woodruff led the university during the Feb. 13 mass shooting that killed three students and injured five others.
“On behalf of the MSU Board of Trustees, I thank Dr. Woodruff for stepping into the role of interim president and providing resolute leadership these past 10 months,” Rema Vassar, the board’s chair, said in a statement. “We appreciate her hard work on behalf of the university, the students, faculty and staff, our alumni, and the greater Spartan community. We particularly recognize her steadfast leadership during the violence that our campus experienced in February and her commitment to improved safety since then. We look forward to her support through an upcoming presidential transition period.”
Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff speaks to students and community members on Feb. 15 before attending a candlelight vigil following the mass shooting on campus earlier in the week. (Andrew Roth/)
MSU is currently in its third search for a permanent leader since 2018, when former President Lou Anna Simon left amid the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. The former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor sexually abused more than 150 student athletes. In 2018, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Prior to Stanley assuming the presidency in 2019, former Gov. John Engler and later Satish Upda served as interim presidents. At the time of her appointment, Woodruff was the school’s fifth president in five years.
During her tenure as interim president, Woodruff has faced controversy over her forcing Sanjay Gupta to resign in August 2022 from his post as dean of the Broad College of Business after he failed to report an associate dean’s sexual misconduct. The Board of Trustees appointed Woodruff as interim president after they hired a law firm to review that demotion.
Gupta has since sued the university, alleging that he was pushed out so he could not become MSU’s next president. Attorneys for Woodruff and other MSU administrators called Gupta’s accusations “threadbare” in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which is ongoing.
In her statement, Woodruff said she was “honored” to serve as interim president and helm “this great university at a moment of extraordinary board and administrative tumult and uncertainty.
“I have been humbled by the support of our deans, Faculty Senate, students and employees, alumni, government, business, and industry leaders across the state of Michigan,” Woodruff wrote. “Together, we have stabilized the university. Together, we experienced and continue to heal from the violence on our campus. Together we have set a course for a safer and more welcoming campus for all. And together, we have created the context for excellence in our shared future.”
Woodruff said she plans to remain in her position until a replacement is selected.
“MSU has a storied history in American higher education, and the next chapter is ready to be written with a new president at the helm,” Woodruff wrote. “Until then, I give you my Spartan best.”
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authored by Anna Gustafson
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